|Scott Johnson calls himself a crusader for the disabled. The hundreds of small businesses he routinely sues call him a legal extortionist.
Welcome to the rough and tumble world of providing access to the disabled. At the heart of the matter is the American with Disabilities Act, the controversial federal law requiring a minimum level of access in all public places.
Disabled advocates say since no government agency enforces the law, that task has fallen to private attorneys who file lawsuits to compel the noncompliant to provide equal access to all. Because of a quirk in California law, the state stands out as a magnet for disabled-access lawsuits and several lawyers have made a name for themselves as frequent filers.
Few, though, are as prolific as Johnson.
Since 2004, Johnson has filed more than 1,000 boiler plate lawsuits in Sacramento federal court, slightly tweaking the documents to fit the target: a restaurant's service counter is too high or an apartment complex doesn't have enough disabled parking. Just last week, the Carmichael lawyer filed more than two dozen lawsuits, mostly aimed at apartment complexes.